Odd couple inspiring Lisson's bobsled dream
Ben Lisson and Melissa Breen train at the AIS this week. Photo: Colleen Petch
ON FACE value their sporting passions are chalk and cheese, but bobsledder Ben Lisson believes enlisting the help of sprinter Melissa Breen will help him achieve his Olympic dream.
Breen made her Olympic debut at London this year, and Lisson is training alongside her and coach Matt Beckenham at the Australian Institute of Sport once a week.
And Breen has given Lisson fresh perspective of the dedication and hard work required to compete on the world's biggest stage.
Lisson puts in the hard yards. Photo: Colleen Petch
Ranked 29th in the world despite less than a year together, the Australian squad is a legitimate chance to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
"Certainly in terms of the technical things, Mel's shown me a lot," Lisson said.
"Sometimes you have to work really hard on something you'd much rather forget about, and think in the grand scheme of things how big is it?
"But if you want to make the Olympics you have to look at those little things."
Lisson's job in the No.3 spot is to launch the bobsled off the start line as quick as possible before hanging on for the remainder of the roughly 55-second course.
The Australian squad is desperate for any edge it can gain over its European rivals, who enjoy far great funding and resources.
But the Canberra journalist insists competing on a shoestring budget could prove to have its advantages.
"Bobsledding on a budget, it's tough because the Germans will be sitting in their hotels while we're fixing sleds," Lisson said.
"Some of the teams have budgets of $1 million, we've got a budget of $10,000 including hotels, food and sled rentals.
"That's fine, it helps us build team camaraderie and I think that's helped us develop as a group.
"To be honest I think that's something where we can have an edge on a lot of other teams."
Lisson and teammates Lucas Mata, Gareth Nichols and Duncan Harvey will compete in World Cup events at North America in coming weeks.
He has stacked on 10 kilograms since taking up the sport, while being careful not to lose any of his speed.
Having access to Breen and Beckingham's knowledge has helped him negotiate this delicate balancing act.
"It's definitely a different kind of training, it's 30m [pushing the bobsled] where you want to put in absolutely everything your body has.
"Two-hundredths of a second can cost you, so you have to be utilising every moment.
"All the different cues like knees up or hips forwards, they're things I never really considered which Mel and Matt picked up within two seconds of me jogging.
"We're right in the mix for 2016, we'd be very disappointed if we miss out."
Breen said the tips she has shared with Lisson on the track will be easily transferable once he resumes training on the ice.
"The same cues are there, being really explosive the first two steps, being able to push off the ground and making longer contact time off it," she said.
"It's different running on ice compared to running on the track, but he's improving and it'll be interesting to see what he can produce over there.
"Bobsled's a team sport, but whether it's winter or summer Olympics there's a lot of training and sacrifice that goes into making those teams."